The hills of Sturgis, South Dakota rumbled during the 75th Anniversary of the legendary biker rally. Yet none of the chrome laden V-Twin bikes were as loud, as raucous, or more exciting than the trucks competing at the Battle at the Chip during The Off-Road Championship (TORC) short track truck racing series. Providing plenty of the thunder was TORC rookie Andrew Carlson, who continued to rapidly progress in the series, narrowly missing the podium by just a fraction of a second.
After a tough weekend of racing in Charlotte a few weeks prior, the team regrouped and met the challenging Sturgis track head on. Despite being the only Pro-Light driver to never have competed on the track, Andrew adapted quickly and the crew did the same, making several key adjustments to the truck over the course of the weekend.
Carved into the hills on the outskirts of Sturgis, the track features huge elevation changes, several tight corners and off-camber hairpins. Carlson was forced to “learn-on-the-fly”, navigating the challenging track at speeds in excess of 70-mph.
A hard fought 8th place finish on the opening day was deemed a study day for driver and crew alike. The lessons from the day were applied to both truck set-up and driver technique in an effort to put it all together in the follow up round.
“It’s all about traction…it’s really that simple,” said team owner Chris Carlson. “We’re constantly looking for ways to improve “hook-up”, both under acceleration and in the corners. Our Atturo Tires have been fantastic, and now we’re learning how to adjust our suspension for the massive fluctuations in track conditions.”
Apparently the crew nailed it as Andrew charged from deep in the field during the second day of racing. Logging nearly equal lap times as the top three trucks, Carlson quickly moved from 10th to 4th and from there he battled with Cam Reimers for the final podium spot. Carlson finished just 0.698 seconds behind Reimers, but the results were a season highlight to this point. It was Carlson’s fourth top-five finish of the season, an impressive feat rarely achieved by a rookie driver. “My crew did a fantastic job with the truck. They made some key changes before the race that worked incredibly well,” said Carlson. “Something really clicked with me during that race…I just felt more confident…probably more than I have all season. I’m understanding how the truck is going to respond in different situations, and I can consistently push it (the truck) to the edge.”
“I feel like we took our program to a new level this weekend,” said Chris Carlson. “The team is gelling…truck set-up is improving…Andrew is gaining confidence…we’ve shown we’ve got the speed…we’re ready for Bark River!”
Bark River, Michigan, August 15-16, is next on the TORC schedule. The Battle at the Chip will be broadcast on Fox Sports – Round 11: October 8th at 9:00pm Central and Round 12: October 15th at 9:00pm Central. Visit the TORC website for exact dates and times for broadcasts, past videos, point standings, and the latest team news. You can see Andrew and other Atturo racers in the TORC or LOORS series by going to www.atturomotorsports.com